After a first day of AFCON mixed fortunes for both parties, Congo Brazzaville, led by Papa Claude, popularly known as Claude Le Roy, lock horns with Gabon and its armada of exciting youngsters coached by former Porto defender Jorge Costa in this mouth-watering Francophone derby.
BACK TO THE PAST: Relieved Congo and smiling Gabon
It’s never easy to start an AFCON when your team has the ”privilege” to play the opening game of the tourney against the host nation. This is the situation Claude Le Roy’s boys found themselves in.
After experiencing problems on their journey to the stadium before the game it seems that Congo weren’t really there. A dull first half where the 1972 champs were dominated by a pumped-up Equatorial Guinea side on the scoreline. The second half was to see a turn of table as Congo, well helped by Nzalang poor fitness will emerge and finally snatch a draw in the last minutes of the game.
Gabon, on the other hand, snatched a win from the jaws of AFCON 2013 finalists Burkina Faso. The first half saw Burkina Faso getting the best chances but their impressive offensive play would not be rewarded as Gabon would take the lead thanks to the African Neymar Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, who cooly put Les Panthéres ahead. Second half was to be the same tale: ultimately, the wasteful Stallions were bitten by Panthéres again thanks to Malick Evouna’s goal.
Various issues surrounded this key clash. Claude Le Roy’s men are already in a do-or-die situation as they’re facing one of the group favourites and after losing points against the weakest team of the group. A win for Congo Brazzaville would give them a “final” against Burkina Faso.
Gabon, for their part, are full of confidence after eating the Stallions last weekend and could even qualify with a win over the 1972 AFCON champions. A draw wouldn’t be a terrible result but a win is needed if they want to avoid a tricky last game against a motivated Nzalang Nacional which will try everything within their means to beat Les Panthéres!
1 – Gabon have managed to win two games in a row in an AFCON only once in their history.
1974 – Congo Brazzaville haven’t won an AFCON game since AFCON 1974, a 2-1 group stage win over neighbours and eventual winners Zaire.
2005 – Congo Brazzaville are unbeaten against Gabon since 2005 when they suffered a 1-0 loss in Libreville.